In mid November of 2021 we installed an Ironman 4x4 America stage 2 Foam Cell Pro suspension system on my 2014 Nissan Frontier PRO4-X. This kit comes with assembled front coil overs, billet aluminum upper control arms, rear leaf packs, leaf spring bushings, U-bolts, and rear shocks. This is Ironman’s top of the line kit for the Nissan Frontier (D40) Since the Frontier is less popular than many other trucks, we had not seen or had any experience with the product. However, based on our experiences with other Ironman products, and our interactions with their team members, we knew it would be a quality kit from a reputable, world wide company.
For starters, let me just touch on Ironman 4x4 America as a business where it pertains to customer service, product backing, warranty and overall experience as a consumer. Its been a pleasure working with them. In the middle of a pandemic where shipping is a nightmare, products are hard to come by, prices are going up, and everything seems to be out of stock or stuck on a boat (lol), they got the kit to me as promised. The components were originally out of stock, but they gave me the expected date for return to stock. I was always in talks with someone at Ironman, keeping me updated on availability and shipping status. They offer free shipping, 30 day return guarantee, and a 3 year warranty on the suspension system. These guys back their products, they test and retest them. Ironman products are run through their paces before they see the shelf. Products born in the outback, and tested in the harshest environments.
So…..I received the kit, and immediately started to plan an install “party.” I had not unboxed anything prior to the install. I did not want to ruin the awe factor and surprise beforehand. Once the day came and we got to open everything up there were lots of “wow,” “daaaaammmnn,” “duuude,” and other excitement filled explicit comments. Rightly so. When you put your hands on a quality product you can feel it, the build quality and fit and finish, the look, design, branding and quality were all excellent. The mass, or “beefiness” (as we called it) of the rear shocks was a popular discussion. They just felt like big, honking, bump absorbing ass kickers! One thing I loved about this kit was the massive replacement leaf packs. Some kits come with an add a leaf. I did not want that as I felt my old leaf springs were tired and worn out. The upper control arms were something to marvel at. You could feel the design quality and stoutness in your hand. Compared to the worn out coil overs I had, the new ones might have well been made out of gold. They are so sexy its ridiculous. I loved the color contrast between the the dark gray shock body and bright green coil springs. A this point I am impressed. Giddy even.
The install was a breeze. We didn’t run into any issues that we didn’t expect with a suspension install on a Frontier. From previous experience, we knew there would be some trimming in some key spots, but nothing that your average driveway mechanic couldn’t handle. To be honest we are not usually the type to read instructions, but I did go through them. They were short and to the point, but thorough enough that anyone with a basic know how could do this in their driveway in a day. We did just that. Though we have access to a shop with lifts, we wanted to do the install in the same manner most people would. In a driveway, on the ground, and drinking beer (lol). It took us roughly 3 hours, even with filming, taking photos and making tiktoks. We have a guy that does that for us. Finally… its done, the kit is on and there’s nothing to do but to grip it and rip it.
I got in the truck and could immediately tell it was taller than how it sat with stock coil overs and 2” spacers. It would eventually settle a bit but still sit taller than before. As I backed the truck out of the driveway I felt the rear drop off the tiny lip of the gutter. This might seem insignificant, but with my old set up I would have felt it quite a bit. It was a small drop but this was an indication of how the test drive was going to go. The truck just felt better. Its firm but not harsh. Soft but doesn’t bottom out. It feels more planted to the ground, more stable. We took off and took some turns through the neighborhood. Faster and faster at each turn. The truck barely leaned, it just held its position. When braking the truck doesn’t dive forward excessively. It does a little as expected but not drastic. I went up a sidewalk entrance with one tire and then dropped it off a curb. It came down, compressed and then settled. No bouncing or lunging for the next 100 feet as I was used to. In this particular neighborhood there are a couple of pretty big dips with good runways towards them. By habit I headed towards the first one timidly. I hit it at what would have been max speed for my old set up. Immediately smiled, looked at Matt and said “butter”. Get used to that word. I turned around and doubled my speed. It soaks it up like I couldn’t imagine, with tires at street pressure (roughly 35psi). Then we hit it even faster. I was blown away. We headed for the other dip in the area. Where the first one was a relatively level road on each side of the dip, this one had a level road leading into the dip and then an incline coming out of it, or a decline going in and flat coming out, depending on direction of travel. We first hit it going from level to incline out. “it feels so good!!”. I turned around and charged the dip heading down hill. We hit the dip, the truck squatted into it, then rebounded and settled. Normally I would expect the truck to bounce for a while. It did none of that. Jose in the back seat was impressed at how non violent it was. We hit the dip a few more times, then Matt drove it through the same sections and our main focus was how the truck absorbed the bumps/dips and just immediately settled. There was no extra bouncing or jarring after the initial suspension travel. I was stoked. I felt my trucks performance was no longer hindered by the suspension. Time to get it home and plan the first real off road test.
A couple loooooonggg weeks later we decided to head out to Johnson Valley to do some pre-running and scope out a campsite for our Winter Expedition at KOH2022. It was Thanksgiving weekend and the area was packed. We got down there in the morning, pulled onto the main dirt road only a few yards to air down and wait for everyone else to arrive. Rarely do I hit the desert without bringing my sons dirt bike for him to ride along with us. I carry it on a hitch mounted bike carrier that I made. Once we started to head deeper into the desert I was nervous, anxious and excited. I didn’t know how the truck was going to feel. The main road in is a typical desert graded road. Some dips and bumps but mostly smooth with a spiderweb of side trails running back and forth, paralleling the main road. Since the main road was packed with vehicles pulling trailers, RV’s and such we decided to hit those side trails to pass the traffic. On my previous suspension anything other than a smooth road with the bike on the back would have the rear end violently bottoming out constantly. Slamming the bump stops and causing the entire vehicle to undulate and sway back and forth. Making for not only an uncomfortable ride but a difficult to handle truck. The short time we spent on the main road immediately had my confidence up. Right off the bat I turned to my son in the passenger seat and said WOW!!!! What a difference. When we hit the side trails I started off a little more cautious. But slowly started going a little faster and a little faster. The ride was very comfortable and the suspension just soaked everything up. Terrain that would have me cringing, scared for my trucks life was just another easy bump. No biggy. At one point I started moving at a pretty good pace and the trail got worse. I saw the whoops coming but it was too late to slow down, I puckered and braced, thinking I was about to slam and launch that bike off the back. I overreacted because the suspension took it beautifully.
I was smiling from ear to ear. What I thought was going to be a slow boring dreadful drive in was a super fun test that showed me how well the leaf spring and shock combo in the back were set up. Eventually I was driving like there was no bike on the back. My son had to keep reminding me saying “dad my bike is back there” and “is my bike still back there” HHAHAHAHAHA. We were both amazed.
We arrived at where we would set up as a potential future camp site. Unloaded the bike and carrier, set up camp and prepared to hit some trails. It was time to see what this suspension system was all about. A thousand yards or so from camp was a hill climb we had done in the past. The terrain to
get to it was a mixture of washboard and dry lake bed. You have to approach this hill with as much speed and momentum as you can. In previous attempts without the Ironman F
oam Cell Pro kit I struggled to get up to and maintain the speed needed to make it up. The truck would be bouncing all over the place causing me to check up and ultimately not make it to the top. We pulled away from camp where it was washboardy and I could instantly feel the difference. I jumped on the radio and said “ holy shit this kit is like butter!!” It was amazing to finally feel the suspension work as intended and keep the truck stable. I was going faster than I ever had in that type of terrain. I charged the hill with confidence. Flying through the desert like a beautiful blue blur. The truck stayed planted. Wheels on the ground, allowing the tires to dig for traction. On the way up it gets bumpy, but the suspension soaked it up and I just stayed on the throttle. At the top there is a series of bumps then some soft sand. I could never make it past this before. After each bump the truck settled and carried momentum into the soft stuff and I arrived at the top. I was on cloud 9 at the top of mountain. Coming down from there is sketchy and just as fun. You have to point and shoot. No slow going. As soon as you hit the bottom you are in the washboards and whoops. Hitting them at speeds I couldn’t reach before showed just how much more capable my truck has become.
We left that area and headed through the desert to hit some other obstacles. If you have been to Johnson Valley you know how harsh the terrain can be. We hit sand dunes, wash board roads, whoops, steep rocky hill climbs and the truck handled everything with ease. If you haven't experienced a suspension system that keeps your wheels on the ground and the vehicle stable through obstacles you are missing out. Most people don’t think of suspension giving you traction, but it does. If your rig isn’t planted, the tires are constantly slipping. The traction I got from this kit far exceeded anything I experienced in the past. Areas where I got tire slip before, I got all traction. The bump absorption is outstanding. Having a suspensions that performs the way the foam cell pro does makes offroading a more comfortable ride, resulting in a much more pleasant experience every time I take the truck out. Meaning I want to go out more often. I am super pleased with the Ironman Foam Cell Pro kit. My truck is finally dialed in and ready to tackle any terrain I want to take it through.